• Unrated, 2 hr. 5 min.
  • Drama
  • Directed By:
    Zhang Ke Jia
    In Theaters:
    Oct 4, 2013 Limited
    On DVD:
    Apr 8, 2014
  • Kino Lorber

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A Touch of Sin Reviews

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Super Reviewer

January 4, 2014
'A Touch of Sin'. A cold, unnerving social critique across classes in China. The direction sets the tone damn well!
John B

Super Reviewer

September 3, 2013
Strong stories overpower the more mediocre ones in telling the tale of those left out of China's booming economy. The reactions are violent and jarring but nonetheless noteworthy
April 17, 2014
A very realistic depiction of modern China, which isn't surprising since these are just fictional recreations of real-life events. Gorgeous cinematography too.
June 24, 2014
One of the few non-vomit-inducing Chinese films; despite some unusual structural features, A Touch of Sin is sort of like Pulp Fiction or an arthouse western, only more directly sociopolitically relevant.
June 3, 2014
This is pretty much the opposite of a feel-good movie.
June 15, 2014
At once baffling and enticing, this film explores four characters who are pushed beyond their limits. Violence ensues for each, but in varying degrees and outcomes. Interesting animal symbolism and a somewhat scathing assessment of Chinese life will keep viewers pondering this film for awhile.
June 13, 2014
Due to it's strongly committed criticism of China's social and economic state, it stands as one of the harshest social commentaries in recent memory. Needless to say, Hollywood should really start taking down notes.
mark d.
January 26, 2014
Toronto Film Critics Association Best Foreign Language Film Nom'


Inspired by true-life tales culled from the Chinese social media website Weibo, Jia Zhangke's attention-grabbing epic (which won the Cannes screenplay prize this time last year) teases together four disparate stories of people driven to violence by the purgatorial pain of their modern existence. Inflected by genre (the martial arts films of King Hu are evidently an influence), the film counterbalances its social-realist reflections on life under creeping neo-capitalism with depictions of cinematic splatter; whether it's a lonely misfit enraged by the unshared profits of a privatised mine, or an emerging Lady Vengeance striking back at the indignities of a brothel, you can rest assured that there will be blood.

The results are deliberately disorienting, with some fans of previous films such as The World and Still Life apparently alarmed by the stark (a)tonal shift of Jia's latest. Certainly, as a state of the nation document, it paints a poisonous picture of people pushed beyond the boundaries of civilised behaviour by the sickness of the circumstances in which they live. This is a world of corruption, violence and despair depicted in a manner that not only flirts with, but positively embraces, the cathartic pleasures of exploitation cinema. In China, the film's release has been delayed amid official worries that it might provoke social unrest; proof, perhaps, that Jia's scattershot approach has hit at least some of its targets.
May 28, 2014
It doesn't come together quite as well as I would have hoped, but that may improve on subsequent viewings. Regardless of that fact A Touch of Sin is still a remarkably beautiful and badass piece of film making. Zhangke is one of the best international filmmakers around right now, so I highly recommend any of his works!
May 12, 2014
Though for two thirds of the film it is excessively violent and dramatically hollow, A Touch of Sin has an impeccable level of visual sophistication; it is one of the most graceful stylistic films of recent times and packs a serious punch with it's brutal action choreography and striking cinematography.
November 25, 2013
Its raw an uncensored film making, more of this is needed. A critical eye inward
Sarfaraz Abbasi
September 27, 2013
A Touch of Sin (Tian zhu ding) Chinese film, written and directed by Jia Zhangke. Film was nominated for Palme d'Or at Cannes Film Festival 2013 - where the director Jia who also wrote the screenplay won the Best Screenplay award. Starring Jiang Wu and Zhao Tao (Jia's wife and frequent-collaborator). A Touch of Sin is based on four major real violent-stories set in contemporary China.

The opening shot shows a biker brutally shoots dead three assailants in a rapid gunfire, while sitting on his motor-bike. We then see, Jiang Wu a miner in a small town who works at a factory, where the boss to arrive is his former class-fellow. Wu gets frustrated with status that his ex-colleagues, who have purchased lavish and cozy vehicles. He sees the lack of honesty among top-management for the oppressed workers. He tries to amend these issues when the boss of factory arrives to takeover before heaps of workers - which embarrasses his boss. Wu is attacked on spot by the security with an iron-rod strikes on his head. He is relieved of his job, and given an apology letter along with sum of amount (extra amount in fact) to leave the area. Dejected and frustrated, he goes to his sister for advice; after receiving no proper reply, he takes it on himself to clean the town of corrupt people by picking up his favorite gun.

Zhao works as a receptionist at a sauna, she's been flirting with a married man. She suffers the worst at her lover's wife, and new pervert customers who want her for their massage. A young lad loses salary for couple of weeks at a factory, for causing an incident in which another employee almost got his hand cut. He's suffering from domestic financial problems, which compels him to commit suicide. Three estranged brothers gather in their village - each one of them possess a personality that is unacceptable to how they were raised as child.

Jia's film draws your attention to certain critical events that happen, not just at the mercy of the Chinese government but how the society has let it slip from under their hands (just like a sand in your fist). The need to reclaim your rights from money-grabbing cronies, who do not give a darn about people's financial conditions, and sufferings. While they accumulate vast portion of wealth the poor get poorer.

Excellent action sequences (especially the opening scene with Jia's story). As we get deeper into this, we witness mild stories BUT now without the violence and blood in it - and of course central subject being 'money'. Breathtaking photography, although Jia was supposed to brush off some the last two segments, they feel bleak and subtle for new-comers.
May 12, 2014
Here's a powerful layered story about outrage against corruption and human abuse and the mishaps of four central characters in the midst of China's booming economy.
Takeshi
May 10, 2014
Tries hard to tell stories of China's corruption and hardship but was just too boring.
May 3, 2014
very interested drama...
May 3, 2014
One of the master of contemporary cinema strikes again with a unique and daring film dealing with the demons of today's China. A must see.
December 21, 2013
The film is 4 short films with about what is happening in contemporary China and the clash between the newly minted and corrupt 1% and the rest of China. The stories are based on actual news stories. This is not the glittering China we see on the news or written about in glossy magazines. This is the China of corruption, the 1 billion Chinese, rampant polution and families being destroyed by capitalism run amok. I thought of the film for days after seeing it.
Matty Stanfield
April 14, 2014
It is so rare for a filmmaker to change his/her style so dramatically, but Zhang Ke Jia has made a completely unexpected film. This film has been banned within the borders of China, but for some reason the country allowed the film to be released. This is a scathing and rage-filled film about the plight of Chinese working and lower class during the fast and turbulent change in Chinese government dynamics. Zhang Ke Jia has taken several real life tragedies and turned them into allegories to demonstrate the desperation created by a corrupt government that essentially has enslaved a vast majority of its population into servitude and dependance. The characters in this film have been pushed to their limits and literally strike out. To his credit, the graphic violence is not sensationalized or glorified. The violence depicted is shocking and disturbing. In some ways the storytelling is done in the manner of Wuxia Story with our "Anti-Heros" pledging allegiance to no one and out only to right wrongs. However, the truly disturbing stories presented fail to right wrongs -- they only manage to add wrongs to wrongs. Powerful and potent human film.
April 5, 2014
semi-documentary masterpeice
Frank Fang
March 2, 2014
Another fantastic film directed by Jia Zhangke. Four stories are based on true events happened in China, but he used them as a way to reflect the contemporary problems and violence in China. As a Chinese, I was resonated by it deeply. And the ending is so shocking, one of the best endings I've seen last year.
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